Back to School, Sustainably

Back to School, Sustainably
Pictured above: Organic cotton polo shirt from EcoOutfitters and fair trade corduroy pants from Eternal Creations


What’s harder than finding ethically made clothes for kids? Finding ethically made clothes for school.

My son’s school has specific required attire: solid-color collared shirts with khaki, navy, or black pants, with jeans as an extra option, plus solid-color dresses for girls. Ethically made apparel that fits these parameters can be elusive, but some options are out there. Here’s what I found:

American Apparel — [2017 Update: American Apparel is no longer in business.] I know, I know, hold your nose a bit. American Apparel is not my favorite company, but it has several affordable options for school wear, all made in the USA. Polo shirts, button shirts, and slacks are some of the highlights. I know the company has its issues, but I’m hoping the ouster of the former CEO signals better things to come. (For more on the American Apparel issue, check out Leah’s thoughtful post.)

EcoOutfitters — This is a new discovery, and I’m excited about what this company offers. EcoOutfitters is a UK store offering GOTS-certified school apparel for children. GOTS — Global Organic Textile Standard — is a rigorous certification that monitors a company’s entire supply chain for organic and fair labor practices. EcoOutfitters offers a broad range of options including solid-color dresses and skirts for girls and shorts and trousers for boys. I was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable prices, although shipping can add a big cost for US shoppers — consider teaming up with a friend if you order!

A few other sites offer a handful of options that may help with your back-to-school shopping. Newcomer WildlyCo offers cute, USA-made skinny jeans (note: they are REALLY skinny….the size 6 I ordered for my first grader are a better for my lanky 4-year-old), while Texas Jeans offers a more relaxed, traditional cut for denim. CWDKids has made-in-the-USA leggings for girls as well as some solid-color polo shirts from Lacoste. Australian brand Eternal Creation offers fair trade trousers in solid colors.

One of my favorite options for back-to-school shopping? Second-hand. Thrift stores are an affordable option, and I love kid-focused consignment sales for their one-stop shopping. This year I’m thinking about trying Thred Up* to fill any gaps in my kiddos’ school wardrobes; I just noticed they have a handy “Uniform Shop” category that makes searching their site much easier. Second-hand clothes are a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle, lessening the environmental impact of the clothing industry and treating clothes as durable goods, not throw-away fast fashion.

Traditional children’s retailers don’t have the greatest records when it comes to labor standards, so it’s nice to know we have choices when sending our kids back to school. Have you found sustainable sources for back-to-shopping?


*Indicated referral link used to support my fair fashion habit.

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1 Comment

  1. Yes! I have been trying to figure out this same thing! My son’s school also requires uniforms and there is already such a limit to what is available for ethically made kids clothes. I will check out the recommendations you made. Thank you!

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